Patient Care Award
Title Pharmacy Manager
Workplace Heart Pharmacy IDA
Andrea Silver was determined to not be a pharmacist.
While growing up in Ottawa, her father was an esteemed community pharmacist, beloved by patients and an active member of the Canadian Pharmacists Association.
Seeking a career path of her own, Silver pursued research. But it didn’t take long for pharmacy to creep back into her life.
“It’s one of those things that is a calling,” she says. “I realized that pharmacy was right in front of me the whole time.”
Still looking to forge her own path, she headed west to study pharmacy at the University of British Columbia (UBC) before settling in her adopted hometown of Victoria in 2016.
Silver is passionate about pushing the scope of practice in pharmacy, to make room for compassionate and progressive patient care. Immediately upon graduation, she enrolled in UBC’s Community Pharmacy Residency, a one-year postgraduate immersive training program that involved 16 community placements in long-term care, a pain clinic, a dialysis unit and HIV outpatient care, among others.
The transformative experience set the bar high: “It gave me a vision for all of the types of roles I could play. I witnessed patients’ experiences at all points throughout the health journey. I can understand where the patient has been and where they’re going.”
Post-residency, Silver pursued a job at Victoria’s Heart Pharmacy IDA, an independent pharmacy with a reputation for providing innovative patient care. As manager of the pharmacy’s Shelbourne Plaza location, she has led the development of many clinical programs servicing Victoria’s older population.
Silver developed and manages the Heart@Home program, which employs the local caregiver service, Comfort Keepers, to oversee medication adherence for up to a dozen of the pharmacy’s daily dispensing program patients at a time, promoting a higher standard of living for elderly residents living at home.
“We started recognizing the impact of caregiver burnout,” she recalls of the inspiration for the medication management program. “Patients were failing even on blister packs and family members would come in really frustrated.”
Now in addition to daily visits from registered care aids, Silver follows up every two to three weeks, monitoring clinical outcomes and pain management to help them live at home for longer. The program has since expanded to meet the needs of patients living with mental health issues, disabilities and chronic pain.
Support for caregivers and loved ones is as an important extension of patient care, she says. As a Certified Diabetes Educator and host of the Victoria Diabetes Store, in collaboration with Diabetes Canada, Silver works closely with the extended care teams of diabetes patients to ensure exceptional care. This not only includes a one-stop shop for all diabetes-related medical supplies and medication counselling, but also partnering with the Victoria Diabetes Education Centre at the Royal Jubilee Hospital to provide follow-up education to patients, as well as their support networks.
“It’s so important to include patients’ support networks because they are helping their loved ones stay healthy,” Silver says. “We encourage family members to learn about the psychosocial aspects of living with that disease.”
A researcher at heart, Silver places great importance on knowledge translation. In addition to a regular newsletter blast for diabetes patients, Silver is also the creator of redefinerx.com, an online clinical resource geared towards practitioners and patients covering controversial topics such as cannabis, Mifegymiso and the HPV vaccine.
In all of her community outreach, Silver emphasizes the need for collaborative care.
“Our communities can benefit from groups of professionals collaborating at the top of their scope,” she says. “Nurses, physicians, registered care aids — it’s about closing the circle of care around that patient. We are going above and beyond and trying to be innovative because it’s right for our community.”
And while the young pharmacist has certainly found her own way in the world of pharmacy, she still carries the legacy of her now-retired father with her: “I saw through my dad that you can actually make a living by sharing your heart with others; that kind of care is contagious.”